by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Valley Catholic's Sam Teague and Liam Walsh celebrate a run against Amity.

While his wife Sarah was in labor and Valley Catholic head baseball coach Pat Thomas was at her side, his top-ranked Valiants were giving birth to one hit after another in an impressive 19-1 thumping of visiting Amity on Wednesday, May 28. The lopsided victory in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs sent Valley Catholic (26-1) into Friday’s quarterfinals, where they hosted Salem’s ninth-ranked Blanchet Catholic (16-6).

Weather put the contest in doubt early in the afternoon as some heavy rains showered the greater Portland area, but once the clouds lifted, and play began, the Valiants were off and running with a five-run first inning and four-run second. Valley Catholic saved its best for last with an eight-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth inning to complete the rout.

“We wanted to come out, stay loose, and prove why we are the No. 1 seed in the state,” said Valiants senior catcher Liam Meagher, who finished three for five with a walk, four runs scored and capped his day off with a three-run home run in the sixth.

“I found a good pitch to hit and hit it hard,” Meagher added about his line drive over the left-center field fence.

Valley Catholic’s other long ball came off the bat of sophomore Alex Hyland, when he launched a fastball from Warriors starting pitcher Brady Baughman well over the left-field wall for a two-run blast that gave the Valiants a 9-0 lead in the second inning. Hyland also added an RBI double and scored twice.

“I just try not to overthink when I’m up,” Hyland said. “We have a good approach at the plate and had one of our best hitting games of the year.”

Valley Catholic pounded out 18 hits in all. Senior starting pitcher Sam Teague was the only Valiant to be held hitless. All he did was walk four times, get hit by a pitch, steal two bases and score three runs. He showed tremendous speed when he tagged up to score on a short fly ball off the bat of Liam Walsh in the third inning. Amity second baseman Daniel Goodwin caught the ball in very shallow right field and, despite a decent throw, still couldn’t get the blazing Teague.

“I’ve been working on pitch recognition and patience at the plate,” Teague said.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Valley Catholic's Sam Teague pitches to Amity.

While Valley Catholic’s bats were hot, its pitching was perhaps equally impressive. Teague was masterful as he struck out nine of the 10 batters he faced over three hitless innings.

“I pounded the zone today and didn’t nibble,” he added.

Hyland followed Teague with two effective innings and allowed just one hit and an unearned run.

Juniors Jacob Vincent and David Baglai each pitched a scoreless frame to finish off the Warriors. Valley’s pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts and allowed only a pair of singles to an anemic Amity offense.

Valley Catholic wasted no time in taking control of the game as its first five hitters all reached base and scored before Baughman recorded an out in the bottom of the first.

Teague led off with a walk and stole second, fellow senior Carter Buuck slapped an infield single, Meagher walked, and sophomore Ethan Cape drew another walk to bring home Teague with the first run of the game.

Walsh followed with a line-drive single to right field that plated both Buuck and Meagher. The Valiants kept the pressure on as Walsh stole second and Pruitt followed with an RBI ground ball that was mishandled by the Warriors, allowing both Cape and Walsh to score.

It was more of the same in the second inning as Meagher and Cape singled to start another rally. Walsh hit the first of his two sacrifice flies, and Pruitt laced an RBI single up the middle before Hyland took Baughman to the woodshed.

In the bottom of the sixth, singles by Baglai and Vincent and yet another walk to Teague loaded the bases. Buuck then came through with a two-run single to center field.

Following Meagher’s long ball, another pair of singles from Walsh and Pruitt set the stage for Hyland’s RBI double off the fence in right-center. Vincent later doubled down the left-field line bringing in two more to round out the scoring.

“We wanted to play loose,” added Valley Catholic assistant coach Conor Walsh, whose duties expanded due to an absent Thomas. “When we don’t (over focus), we actually play better.”

Oh, by the way, Nora Thomas was born at 6:36 p.m. and weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 12 ounces. Who knows? Perhaps her birth helped spark the Valiants’ sixth-inning explosion.

Marcia Randall, a respected local philanthropist for whom Valley Catholic’s Randall Field is named, and Randall Realty Corporation Vice President Steven Mozinski each threw out a first pitch before the game. Randall Realty helped begin the construction of the Valiants’ home field back in 1995.

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